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For the last five years, large telecommunications companies appear to have been breaking the law by turning over customer records and phone calls to the government without a warrant, opening themselves up to massive liability. Lawsuits are working their way through the court system. Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, spearheaded by Jay Rockefeller, moved an extension of the FISA bill through his committee that would end these lawsuits by granting immunity retroactively to these companies.
After a call by bloggers to Chris Dodd to place a hold on any bill that would grant retroactive immunity, Dodd promised to do so. By leading boldly on an issue, he received over $150k in small dollar donations within 24 hours and jumped dramatically in online support. Joe Biden followed Dodd with a promise to filibuster this bill, and after pressure from Moveon and bloggers, both Clinton and Obama came out with statements. Obama offered a rousing pledge to filibuster any bill with retroactive immunity, while Clinton put out standard mush.
Today, bloggers, civil liberties groups, and online activist groups put out a letter to Senator Reid asking him to respect Dodd's hold and work against the bill, which he has not yet pledged to do. The site is at http://www.noretroactiveimmunity.com, and the letter is addressed to Reid and the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The organizational co-signers are the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Working Assets Wireless, ColorOfChange.org, and Moveon.org Political Action. There's also a list of bloggers, including yours truly, who have signed the letter. Today, there will be calls in Nevada to show Senator Reid that there is widespread support for the rule of law among his constituents, and a firm call by civil liberties groups and bloggers that the rule of law is a core principle not to be sacrificed to the Bush administration.
All of this is to prepare us for the Judiciary Committee hearings next week on the bill, so the letter is cc'd to all members of the Judiciary Committee as well. Atrios lays out the framework pretty well. This is Mr. 24% demanding everything from the Democrats he wants, and the Democrats deciding whether they will give it to him. Harry Reid is the Majority Leader, so it's his job to get 41 votes to stop this travesty.
Sign the letter. It's at NoRetroactiveImmunity.com.